Ok, I had this arguement with a bunch of my friends this Sunday and had to bring the subject to the table here at the Cafe. First off, I'm one of those people who believes that it's a crime players like Art Monk and Jimmy Smith get such little love when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Maybe, I'm a softie, but Monk retired as the All-Time leader at his position and Smith posted seven straight 1,000 yard seasons. Those are Hall credentials, IMO. I realize Smith isn't eligible yet, but he gets a lot of negative reaction from experts when it comes to his likelihood as a Hall member.
In any case, Issac Bruce came up in conversation and nearly everyone at the table scoffs at me and says I'm pushing it by saying Ike is a Hall of Famer. I'll make my case here and I know that stats don't say everything, but damn these numbers are staggering and might open the eyes of some of the people reading this right now. These stats are up to the minute.
12,967 Recieving Yards (9th All-Time)
78 TD's (20th All-Time)
862 Receptions (7th All-Time)
Seven 1,000-yard seasons
Four seasons was top 5 in recieving yards
Super Bowl Champion with 2000 Rams
Naturally, these numbers are representative if he retired today. Of course, we all know he's going to play a bit longer. He's 34 years of age and still very productive. If he plays one more season and has a less than average year, he'll easily pass Hall of Famer Steve Largent and Andre Reed to become the 7th All-Time leader in receiving yards, assuming Marvin Harrison, who's currently 7th, continues to play. 10 more TD's and he's in the top ten All-Time in recieving scores.
In any case, you see where I'm going with this. The man is clearly a Hall of Famer in my opinion. Where does he rank in yours?
I think it's a close call. He probably won't make it because his numbers, by Hall of Fame standards aren't earthshattering. However there have been players who have made it, that I thought shouldn't have. I definitely don't think that anyone can adimantly deny, that he shouldn't make it , the guy was a great receiver. If I'm voting I say yes.
I think the one thing that really makes me stand up and notice is the possibility of Bruce being a top five wideout in almost every major statistical category if he has just two more productive years after this one. If he does so, he'll be 36 years old in 2008.
Top five in almost every major category and he was a main offensive cog in one of the greatest Super Bowl teams ever. I just don't see how he doesn't get it, but thus far the even vote in my poll makes me wonder if I'm crazy for thinking his numbers and Super Bowl prowess will garner him a Hall pass.
The problem is that of the glamour positions, WR seems pretty underrepresented to me, I think there are only 9 WRs in right now.
I have made some lengthy posts on why I don't think Monk is the slam dunk people think he is (long story short, only a third of his career was even what people would call "good," and during his peak years, the leagues receivers weren't nearly as yardage-challenged as people claim when defending him). However, since I think he is borderline and a key cog in some super bowl teams, I'm not gonna be pissed if he does get in.
That said, I think Irvin should get in first, then probably Bruce. Those Rams teams were so much fun to watch. I can never get into a game THAT much when the Eagles aren't involved, and the Rams during those days was appointment TV. And Bruce has the rings, the stats, and the "Wow" factor. I mean what else is there for the HOF aside from those three thingS?
The opening scene of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" is loosely based on games of dodgeball Brian Dawkins played in second grade.
In Peter King's article this week he talks a lot about the HoF and specifically about receivers.
I would say that Bruce will always be on the outside looking in because he's been consistently good, but never great, and there's a whole slew of great receivers playing today such as TO, Moss, CJ, Holt (never mind Irvin, Monk, Rice, Cris Carter, et. al. who have retired but are waiting) who will make the HoF committee decide that they liked Bruce but they will ultimately not induct him.
Also, you have to consider how many people from The Greatest Show on Turf will get inducted. Faulk? Certainly. Holt? Has a shot. Martz? Possibly. Others? I don't remember their defense or OL that well so forgive me if I'm overlooking some. But in any case, that team will certainly be represented in the Hall with or without Bruce.
Rams HoF or Ring of Honor or whatever they have? Sure. NFL's? Not so much.
I don't think Bruce or Jimmy Smith are HOF caliber players. They are/were certainly very good players, but I think the HOF is (or at least should be) reserved for the best of the best - you had better be the premier player at your position for at least a few years. There are certainly more than enough RB's and QB's that "sneak" in on reputation or glamour more than playing ability. Joe Namath and Bob Griese come immediately to mind. WR isn't really like that for HOF purposes
It's also difficult to compare statistics because the game has evolved. While Ike and Jimmy may rank high on the all-time lists right now, there are a slew of players (most of whom were mentioned earlier) who are, IMO, clearly better players who should be overtaking them shortly. The game has become more offensive minded in the last decade or so, to the point that comparing Favre's numbers to those of Roger Staubach doesn't make sense. Nor should it make sense to compare Jimmy Smith to Lynn Swann.
This is why I think it's more important to look at players relative to their contemporaries - was the player ever the best at his position? The answer is clearly no for both Bruce and Smith - consistenyl good, rarely great.
Somewhere on this board is another thread re: Jimmy Smith's HOF credentials. It probably came out shortly after his retirement. At any rate, I did a fairly detailed analysis of his career, relative to the other WR's playing at that time. From what I recall, Smith only finished a season in the top 3 WR's in catches, yards, or TDs once (He had two seasons that really stood out, the rest were just good). Most of the time he wasn't even in the top 10 in any of those categories. That's not a HOF receiver.
I have a feeling that if you make a similar comparison of Bruce you'll find the same thing. I could be wrong.
When talking about WR's who should make the HOF, I think Marvin Harrison is obviously the gold standard among active wideouts. Where do Smith and Bruce compare to him? Will they get consideration before Moss, TO, CJ, Holt, what about Darrell Jackson?
Seems like a WR has to break records to get HOF consideration. I'm not sure Bruce or Smith make for that kind of player. Why not let everybody in? You can't even put the best player from every team in the HOF, it diminishes the honor. Bruce was never the best player on his own team, and for a while Smith might have been, but he's out, IMO, for other reasons.
That 110 reception season is certainly Hall-worthy and is one of the best of all time (with Tony banks, none the less). He's stuck with the same team his whole career, won a super bowl (and played in another) and was the best wide receiver of one of the greatest offenses of all time. I think he'll get in, but it may take a bit. If he hits 900 career receptions, he's a shoo-in.
And Art Monk did hold the all-time receptions record for a while, which was pretty impressive at the time. He simply has to be in by virtue of Largent being in.